In 1584, a headstrong woman vows to find her stepfather's murderer.
Rosamond Jaffrey and her husband, Rob, are enjoying a peaceful respite at Rosamond’s London house when she learns from her estranged mother's servant that her stepfather, Sir Walter Pendennis, is dead. Although her mother has never treated her well, Rosamond still wants her approval. And the fact that her half brother, Benet, who’s set to inherit most of the estate, is only 8 puts him in danger of becoming a ward of the crown, who will likely sell the wardship to the highest bidder. Rosamond, who’s wealthy in her own right, decides that she’ll have to purchase it to protect the family interests. She heads down to Cornwall, where her mother greets her and Rob with disdain, but Lady Pendennis eventually invites them to dinner and informs them that Sir Walter didn't die in an accident—he was murdered. Because Sir Walter worked for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Rosamond can readily believe that someone wanted him dead. Their own trip to Muscovy in Walsingham’s service (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall, 2015, etc.) has left both of them with a taste for adventure, but Rosamond, preoccupied with finding her stepfather’s killer, is in no mood for Rob’s surprise announcement that he’s purchased a small ship. Their investigations lead them to other deaths, a conspiracy that may involve pirates, and the involvement of papist families living in the surrounding area of Cornwall. Rosamond’s ability to speak Cornish is a big help in questioning the locals, who are loath to assist in the investigation. More deaths follow, and Rosamond and her group of helpers are attacked, but she’s never discouraged, though she has an almighty difficult puzzle to untangle.
A meandering mystery with far too many red herrings that’s still enjoyable for its historical insights and detailed descriptions of everyday life in Tudor England.